- Written by Office of the President
Chinese newspaper describes the event as "The most successful event ever held on Weibo"
"I'm proud to be a member of the Weibo family."
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, launched his official Weibo page this morning on China's largest social network from the company's headquarters in Beijing. President Peres is among the first world leaders to launch a page on the social networking site which boasts 2.8 billion posts a month and hundreds of millions of users. In accordance with Chinese tradition, President Peres and the Vice President of the company hit a gong to announce the launch, hundreds of Weibo employees attended and waved Chinese and Israeli flags. Within minutes of the launch 50 million users viewed the Weibo page of the President of the State of Israel.
President Peres said, "I'm proud to be a member of the Weibo family, I look forward to seeing you all on my page so that I can speak directly to the Chinese people, and especially the younger generation, to strengthen Israeli-Sino relations." The Vice-President of the company said the event was the first of its kind in China and was the largest launch of a Weibo page in the history of the company. The users posted questions for President Peres with many interested in finding out more about the State of Israel. Immediately after the launch event President Peres conducted an interview in the company studio with two leading Chinese bloggers, Ma Xiolin and Wang Chong, and questions from Weibo users.
President Peres answered questions pertaining to his life and work, his recommendations for places to visit in Israel and in particular Israeli science and technology. President Peres was asked what the secret to the wisdom of the Jewish people is and he responded, "Our secret is learning. It's important to ask questions, to cast doubt, to think creatively outside of the box and to learn about issues in depth. Our secret is based on high quality education."
The bloggers were interested in how President Peres perceived Israeli-Sino relations and asked about the arms embargo to which President Peres responded with a smile, "Israel and China have a wide range of cooperation and I have come to China to deepen and expand our trade in technology, medicine, high-tech and science rather than arms, I think that's preferable."
President Peres also addressed the peace process with the Palestinians which is garnering attention in China and said, "Both the Israeli and Palestinian people want to live in independent and separate states and we should respect that. I hope that the peace process between the people will bear fruit and we will be able to live side by side in friendship."
At the end of the interview President Peres took the opportunity to invite the people of China to visit Israel and said, "I invite you to visit Israel, the people of Israeli look forward to meeting you and will welcome you warmly. We have the Dead Sea where you can float, Jerusalem where you can learn history and a tradition like no other."
President Peres' Sina Weibo Page
Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO
- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
A spring Monday evening at the home of South African ambassador to Israel, H.E. Sisa Ngombane and Mrs. Thathanyana Ngombane. The gracious hosts held a reception in honor of a group of South African journalists who are on a “discovery” trip to Israel, under the auspices of the South Africa-Israel Forum.
Gracing the event was the doyen of the Israeli diplomatic corps, H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba, ambassador to Israel of Cameroon. Also present was the ambassador of the European Union H.E Lars Faaborg-Andersen and ambassadors and diplomatic staff of several other countries.
In his warm welcome address to the gathering, Ambassador Ngombane spoke of how careful one must be in Israel (or anywhere for that matter) to avoid a diplomatic faux pas by saying the perceived wrong things. He successfully avoided any clangers and made the guests feel right at home.
The South African journalists, from a range of news media there, are in Israel for just five days. According to Dan Brotman, executive director of the South Africa-Israel Forum, the group will see Israel “warts and all”. The Forum brings groups from South Africa from a range of backgrounds, with the defined intention of inviting them to examine the country at a grassroots level.
Among the Israeli guests were Steve Linde, Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post; Hagay El-Ad, Executive Director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, Raphael Ahren, senior writer at the Times of Israel, and Marcelle Sheiman, chairperson of the South Africa-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
First Secretary of the South African diplomatic mission, Mr. Freddie Jordaan was on hand at all times to make sure the event was a diplomatic success in every sense of the word. Having wonderful South African wines on hand to accompany the elegant meal was a perfect supplement to what proved to be an interesting and productive evening.
Thank you Ambassador and Mrs. Ngombane.
Photo by Dave Kaplan from Telfed
- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
You don’t have to speak French, but it helps.
Hundreds of guests turned up at the annual celebration of French speakers, held this year at the Arab-Hebrew Center in Jaffa. The Francophone Celebration is an annual event, celebrated worldwide – Israel included, with events taking place throughout the month of March.
Twelve embassies in Israel participated this pastmorning (in alphabetical order – to avoid any diplomatic incident): Belgium, Canada, Cameroun, Cypress, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, France, Greece, Republic of Congo, Romania, Switzerland and Vietnam.
The ambassadors of almost all the countries honored the invited guests with their presence at an exclusive performance of the play “Neighbors”; a play by the Nephesh Theater. You don’t have to speak French; in fact, you don’t have to speak any language to enjoy this moving and humorous production: it is non-verbal and there are no “lines”. Yes, there are sounds, and even “conversations”, but in gibberish that becomes universally understood by the action on stage. In fact I identified only two words, both of which I believe are pretty universal: mama and baby. Yet I understood everything, especially the theme: what separates, or binds, neighbors is often found right next door.
After the performance the invitees mingled with the crowds in the courtyard where the various embassies offered tastings from their home countries. These included French cheese and wine, Swiss raclette with beer, Romanian delicacies, Belgian frites, Canadian waffles, and and and … the choices and generous offerings were overwhelming.
The Arab-Hebrew Theater is a longstanding effort at reducing possible tensions between the various racial, religious and ethnic groups that so characterize multicultural Jaffa. The director, Yigal Efrati, addressed the audience before the play. He explained that the name as “Arab-Hebrew” and not “Arab-Jewish” was chosen so as to remove any perceptions of religion from the organization.
At the party after the performance the Romanian ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Andreea Păstârnac addressed the gathering. She spoke eloquently – in French, which unfortunately, your diplomacy correspondent could not follow. C’est la vie – I guess you do have to speak French after all …
Photos Silvia Golan
- Written by BatZion Susskind
Nowruz is Persian for"[The] New Day" and is the name of the Iranian New Year or the Persian New Year. It marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. Nowruz is celebrated and observed by Iranian people and their various religious groups
A few days ago, I joined members of the Baha'i faith, one of these groups, at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, to celebrate it.
I doubt there is anyone that has ever visited Israel that has not been to visit and see the spectacular beauty of the Baha'i gardens in Haifa and Akko. This site serves as the Bahá'í World Center which is much the result of a successive number of persecutions and imprisonments of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith who was banished from Persia by Nasser-al-Din Shahin 1853,
It is not only their contributions to the Israeli landscape, however, that connect Israel to the Baha'i Faith. A close examination of its principles reveals a common link between them and those of the State of Israel. They both share the understanding that "human rights must be applied irrespective of differences of racial background, ethnic origin, religious belief or national identity." All one had to do in order to grasp the truism of this principle was to look around the reception hall. There were members of every creed, every race, nationality and religious entity among the participants.
After the warm welcome at the entrance by the leaders of the community, the guests were invited to enjoy the abundance of delicacies and the traditional symbolic foods associated with the special day, all nicely displayed on the tables across the reception hall.
Following the reading of President Shimon Peres festive greetings to the Baha'i community, Secretary General, Joshua Lincoln delivered his welcoming speech. He shared with the guests the Baha'i's global activities and goals for the coming year. He specifically stressed the role of the Baha'I youth in their various projects of volunteering activities. Ami Palmor, Director General of the Ministry of Justice of the State of Israel spoke last. She described the special relationship that has evolved between the Baha'i community and the Ministry.
Finally, in line with the Baha'i faith's emphasis on the role of youth to serve humanity in shaping the future of our world, a group of young boys and girls performed the late Arik Einstein's song, "Ata V'Ani Neshaneh et Haolam," (You and I will change the world).
This New Spring Season, we wish our Baha'i friends – and all of mankind - a year full of Hope, Celebrations, Productivity and great Collaborations in our efforts to make this world a better place for all.
Photos Silvia Golan
- Written by Silvia G. Golan
On Monday, March 3, H.R. Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to Israel, Mr. Dimitar Mihaylov and his wife, Mrs.Nora Mihaylova, held a reception at the Dan Accadia Hotel in Herzliya, to celebrate the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria, following the Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878.
Honorary guest was Mr. Gilad Erdan, Minister of Communications and Home Front Defense, who came to congratulate the Ambassador and the embassy staff the on this special day.
The ceremony started with the national anthems of the Republic of Bulgaria and Israel.
Then the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Bulgaria in Israel presented the Bulgarian Ambassador
The H.R. Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria delivered most of his speech in excellent Hebrew, and also spoke in English and Bulgarian. He welcomed all the guests by saying:
"Your Excellency Gilad Erdan, Minister of Communications and Home Front Defense, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
It is a distinguished honor to welcome you to the National Day of Bulgaria. This is the day when the Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878 ended the Russo-Turkish war and enabled the establishment of an independent Bulgarian State.
Today, Bulgaria, who is a member of the European Union, continues its democratic development within a country that has been able to instill the vision which our founding fathers envisioned: a precious republic of the people, by the people, and for the people in which members of all ethnicities and religious affiliations live together harmoniously; united by a common destiny and common future.
Now as never before, our bilateral relations with the State of Israel are increasingly growing into a partnership of mutual trust, with common aims of turning the adjacent Middle East and Europe into areas of prosperity, development and tolerance. The message that Bulgaria always sends to our Israeli friends is that the binding force between our two nations is rock-solid and it is our actions that lay the strong foundations for lasting bond of our generations to come."
Mr. Gilad Erdan greeted the H.R. Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to Israel, Mr. Dimitar Mihaylov and Mrs. Mihaylova, the Distinguished Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Missions in Israel, and the other Honored Guests.
He conveyed the warmest congratulations to Bulgaria on behalf of the government and people of Israel. He said that in Israel we wish peace, prosperity and happiness for the Bulgarian people, and that we are honored to celebrate this day with them. That Bulgaria is one of Israel's most important friends in Europe. That the bonds of collaboration and friendship shared by the two countries are strong, and growing more expansive.
That our nations have formal cooperation in several areas: politics, economics, sciences and culture. That in the past years we have signed new bilateral agreements dealing with homeland security, communications and health.
He continued by mentioning the following facts:
· In 2013, Israel gave hundred of Bulgarians work permits and employed them in construction, which helped them enrich their lives with dignified work.
· 2015 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic ties between Bulgaria and Israel. Since then, our nations have enjoyed high-level official visits, which stand as testimony to our renewed friendship. The peak of this process was the Government-to-Government (G2G) meetings, first in Sofia, then in Jerusalem.
· In the multilateral arena, Israel is grateful for Bulgaria's efforts to strengthen Israel's standing with the EU as well as the rest of the international community. In particular, Israel is grateful for the tremendous effort invested by Bulgaria in helping place Hezbollah in EU's Official List of Terrorist Organizations after the cowardly and despicable attack in Burgas (July, 2012).
· Israel gladly acknowledges Bulgaria's firm stance against anti-Semitism. We deeply appreciated the uncompromising statements across Bulgaria's political spectrum denouncing the infamous Lukov March, and the action taken by Bulgaria's lawmakers to ban the march from taking place. This act underlies the atmosphere of tolerance and humanity in Bulgaria, which the Jews know of all too well.
· Israel will always remember the salvation of the Jews of Bulgaria during WWII and the holocaust. The help of brave Bulgarians, who did not stand idle, marks a proud chapter in Bulgarian's history, which must never be forgotten. We all have the responsibility to learn and teach future generations the history of the holocaust and its lessons.
· The National Day of Bulgaria marks the nation's liberation and its freedom after many years of repression. The Jewish people also share the experience of a national rebirth after ages without political sovereignty.
Mr. Gilad Erdan ended by congratulating the government and people of Bulgaria on their National Day, and wishing Bulgaria a future of peace, economic growth, and continued friendship and cooperation with the State of Israel.
Photos by Silvia Golan